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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 21 November 2002
Are you a man or a woman? How old are you? Both of these may effect how this film impacts you. I'm a 32 year old unmarried man, and so caught the brunt of this film's message (I assume the protagonist is not far from his mid-30s, and he's _very_ male and _very_ unmarried). But I know at least one woman who really enjoyed this film as well, so you don't have to be in my demographic to get a kick from it.
Overall, an excellent movie. Let's start simple: the soundtrack. It was so good I almost bought it! However I'm not really a "soundtrack buyer" type person, so I didn't in the end. But it's got a great bunch of songs in the movie anyway, and they seemed to fit in perfectly with the story.
Next: the genre. What type of movie is this? Well it's not what I'd call a romantic comedy. It is more comedy than romantic - in fact it is very very funny. Although there is a romance in this movie, it is more a romance of the "self" - the main character coming to love and hate parts of himself he wasn't even conscious of. The main relationship in the movie is between the man, and the boy who comes into his life. And, by the way, the portrayal of the boy by Nicholas Hoult is absolutely brilliant and scarily convincing. And Hugh Grant is perfect, with his part being closer to his Bridget Jones days than his 4 Weddings days. Toni Collette, as the boy's mother, is just fabulous. Apart from the relationship between the boy and the man, the relationship between the boy and his mother is the other important one in the movie: and it is heart-rending, heart-warming, frustrating, and quite realistic.
When I say “heart-rending”, in relation to this movie, I mean it. Either I am emotionally unstable (probably) or this movie is very touching (definitely). I had to hold back my tears a number of times and at the end just had to give in to the old water works. Hugh Grant's character is torn apart and rebuilt in the crucible of a forced growing up, brought on by the boy coming into his life. "About a Boy" talks to men like myself in an almost subconscious way - I found myself moved by things and not knowing why. But I just knew it was important. And the resolution and finale on stage was just brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Bravo Hugh!
I've watched this movie twice and will probably do so again. I feel it has a real message for myself and says something significant. And it's great fun to watch!
A quick footnote: I'm actually a fan of Nick Hornby (he wrote the book the movie was based on). If you are a Nick Hornby fan I strongly recommend you see this movie. Forget the half-hearted attempts made to bring "High Fidelity" on to the screen. This one is the real thing! It really brings the book to life - it is definitely a "Nick Hornby Film", if you know what I mean.
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on 6 January 2003
Grant plays, Will, a rich, lazy and irresponsible 38 year old, with little better to occupy his time than a daily dose of Countdown and chasing women. He strikes upon the idea of meeting single-mums, his rational being that they are easy prey and as a result of one of his liaisons, his life becomes complicated by the introduction of Marcus. Marcus, (Nicholas Hoult) is a twelve year old with a lot of problems on his hands, he is bullied and laughed at school, his hippy-ish, vegan mother has tried to kill herself and permanently looks like she is on the verge of doing it again, but his outlook is surprisingly mature. He strikes up a sort of friendship with Will and what entails is a charming tale of how man educates boy, and in turn boy unwittingly educates man.
Much had been made of Hugh Grant's new haircut for the film, gone the floppy fringe and in it's place a new spikier messed up look. Well he may have a new haircut, but he is as likeable as ever, playing something slightly sharper and more complex than the amiable buffoon and delivering an excellent performance. Hoult as Marcus makes an adequate if slightly unspectacular debut, but there is good support from the ever dependable Toni Collette, Victoria Smurfitt and Rachel Weisz. The Badly Drawn Boy soundtrack is excellent even if towards the end the songs begin to sound a little over-familiar.
Overall, I think Hornby can be pleased that his book has been reasonably faithfully interpreted. A few minor changes have occurred (from what I can remember of the book) but as a film by itself, this is a frequently amusing, interesting, bitter sweet drama that is perfect for a night in with the girlfriend.
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on 12 December 2003
This film is brilliant and a really good adaptation of the book. I read the book first and loved it and decided to see the film. Only the ending had changed dramtically, and it was a good idea as the book ends wonderfully but would not transfer well onto the big screen.
I loved the way that one minute you were laughing out loud and the next you felt like crying for Marcus and Hugh Grant's character Will.
Its a great film that all Hugh Grant fans will love but even if you hate his work you will like this, its a completely different character to the simpering bloke you see in some of his other films. Also good in this were Toni Collette of Sixth Sense fame, and Rachel Weiz a.k.a Evelyn from The Mummy.
A big promise for the future is shown in Nicholas Hault playing Marcus of which half of the movie rests on his young shoulders. He pulls it off amazingly well and the solo at the end is just so good in its cringworthiness!!!
See the film and read the book, in either order because they both brilliant!!!
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on 3 September 2003
In this box set you get the book by Nick hornby, the film starring Hugh Grant and the soundtrack by Badly Drawn Boy.
The book, is a brilliant read, tackles subjects like suicude, divorce and the meaning of life and manages to do so in a humerous way without being tactless, that I think is quite an acomplishment in itself.
The film, whilst not covering the same ground of philisophical thouughts which are explored in the book, also misses out a few of the storylines in the book, for example Marcus' relationship with Ellie is far more complex in the book, and it's hardly mentioned here. The 'Kidz Rock' concert, it also not actually in the book. Despite the straying from the book content, the film is brilliant. Hugh Grant is comfortable in the role of Will, and pulls of one of his best performances yet, manage to show Will as the cocky, arrogant, person he is, but still make you feel for him when he entire philosophy of life is chaged by the appearance of Marcus in his life.
The soundtrack, by Badly Drawn Boy is brilliant, with a complete mixture of songs there really is something for every mood.
This box set has kept me amused for hours, ad I can read/watch/listen to it as many times as I want, and it ha syet failed to get old.
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on 12 June 2005
The phrase "well it was good, but not as good as the book" is a phrase very often used when reviewing an adaptation of a successful novel and in many ways this is very true of "About a Boy".
Now before anyone thinks I'm having a pop at the film I'm not, the film is still excellent. A wonderful piece of relationship storytelling that is both touching and intelligent and also contains some extremely amusing asides on top.
Hugh Grant is on top form in this and proves that he can play something other than the dizzy floppy haired English Gent. In this he goes through a whole range of emotions and yet pulls it off with a considerable amount of subtly and panache that he remains utterly convincing throughout. Nicholas Hoult is similarly perfectly cast as the solemn misfit 12 year old and works a hundred times better than a "cuter" child star would have done.
However as good as the film is, I would recommend all who enjoyed the film (and those that didn't in fact) to read the original book by Nick Hornby, which includes larger roles for several of the characters, especially the Ellie character, and lots more relationship interplay and the film.
The one criticism of the film is the "happy every after ending" which is just a little bit too happy for anything other than Hollywood but on the whole a well recommended watch.
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on 17 December 2002
As expected, this movie can be filed alongside the Four Weddings and Notting Hills of this world - and it's worthy of the comparisons. But where it differs from its predecessors is in its dealings with downbeat topics like lonliness and suicide. And this gives a lovely realness to the story that the others just don't have.
The main pull for this film has to be Hugh Grant and you'll be glad to hear that he doesn't disappoint. This role sees another of his cracks at a rough-and-ready, rouguish character and he plays the part well. He's more rounded a character than ever and will probably appeal as equally to male viewers as female....just in case you're a bloke who's having second thoughts.
If you have a sensitive side - and surely we all do - this could be your film. It's a heart-felt picture of one's lonliness as a boy and another's loneliness as a man, arguing that we all need friends, at least at some points of our lives. Its beauty is in its English-style subtlety. There are some truly difficult subjects touched on here, but each is explored without over-egging the point. You can be reassured that this is one film that hasn't sold its soul to the American cinema public. And I hope you see that as the compliment it's meant to be.
So if you're looking for a touching story with an English-style wit, this could be it. With the bonus of a cracking soundtrack from Badly Drawn Boy, it deserves to be a Christmas hit.
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on 7 December 2003
Having heard about how good this film was supposed to be, i decided to give it a shot. And i will say that i was not disappointed in the least. Although i have never been a fan of these type of films that make your eyes fill up, i found it really entertaining and several viewings later, i still had not got board, which is very rare for a film.
It is about a shallow, lazy man called Will Freeman who basically does nothing apart from live a life of leisure, using his fathers fortune. However, things start to change when he meets Marcus, a 12 year old boy having problems at school and at home, and pretty soon he is drawn into an unknown world of love and emotion. Afterall, 'no man is an island'.
Hugh Grant is on top form and plays the part of Will, brilliantly. In fact, i don't think they could not have picked a better actor for the role. The rest of the cast are amazing as well, especially the boy who plays Marcus (sorry, i don't know his name). There is also a fantastic soundtrack written especially for the film, by the critically acclaimed 'Badly Drawn Boy'.
This film is one of a kind in that it is extreamly funny in some places, and at the same time extreamly sad in some places. Both these things have been put into the film in exactly the right doeses, ie there is just the right amount of each.
Well, what more can i say, other than to reinforce what i have already said about how great a film this is, and how you should buy it, even if you are not into this type of film, because i guarentee you will love it.
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on 3 January 2009
Middle aged bachelor Will (Grant) gets more than he bargained for when he meets Malcolm (Hoult) a young lad who wants a partner for his suicidal mum.

Hugh Grant, the romantic guy of the nineties. You may ask what makes About a Boy different from every other romance films. Why should you spend time watching a film that could easily be a repeat of another one of his flicks?

With his roles in films such as Four Weddings and a Funeral and Love Actually, his characters were always chasing the girl but there is more to Will than these stereotypical parts. He is not Prince Charming. He is not a babbling geek. He is a git. A man with no regard for anything but himself. Grant has made Will the man any viewer would love to hate. But yet he manages to be unbelievably funny and charming, and you can't help but love him. Grant here has shed that everyday loveable loser who can't commit into a man with personal baggage and an agenda. Juxtaposed with Nicholas Holt and you have a fine onscreen duo.

Little would we know that the lad playing Malcolm would become a teenage hero in award winning teenage gritty drama Skins. This well thought out debut performance puts faith back into the future.

The stereotypical geek protagonist is ridiculed too often by picking up on media conventions such as computers, glasses and vast knowledge etc. But there is a spin here because Malcolm is called a geek because of his appearance. The baggy hippy clothes, the bowl haircut and the solo singing make him an outcast and he is labelled a geek for it and here we explore the depths of his character and though he is portrayed as a geek on the outside he is a child wanting love on his inside, a fine representation. This sentimental technique which some may find obvious but undeniably rightful.

Sounds cheesy right? Wrong. This Nick Hornby adaptation is far from it. Unpredictable, consistent, funny and without resorting to clichés and slapstick humour creates a sharp originality. The script also preaches through strong real life issues including growing up, suicide, bullying and loneliness. About a Boy is not afraid to get its messages across.

Though Grant and Hoult are the stand out stars, Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine) gives a knockout supporting role as Malcolm's mother.

About a Boy is a fine real romantic drama that preaches through hidden messages and delivers through some stand out performances.

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About a Boy is a join-up-the-dots kind of film that seems to have been very well received. It is well acted and there is some interest in the rapport between Hugh Grant's good-for-nothing character and Nicholas Hoult's 12-year-old son of a depressed single mum, but it seems as arranged as the interiors where much of it is set. It is one of those films that leads the viewer too winsomely by the hand - mainly, it is its too obvious intent to entertain. It doesn't really have any soul, so that the suicide attempt of one of the characters just seems to skate over the surface of the screen. Toni Collette managed to make a much deeper impression in Muriel's Wedding, which also didn't shy away from difficult subject matter within a comic framework, but said a lot more about life than this one, and had a far edgier comic appeal. The double voice-over sets up the problems, seeming to box the film in - it is funny and holds the interest, but all the main actors have been better elsewhere.
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on 5 December 2002
I read the book a while before I saw the film, and found it really funny, so i had high expectations. I normally don't watch films after I've read the books, but I'd imagined Hugh Grant playing Will, and he seemed to fit the role perfectly.
The film is great. I've watched it 3 times in the last 10 days, and i could watch it again now - i don't think i'd ever get bored of it! The one thing that really impressed me is how much of a loser they make Marcus. Normally the bullied kid in films like these is played by some cute little boy like Halley Joel Osmont, that they can't bear to make look ugly, so make him wear cool clothes despite the plot line. But in this, you could really understand why Marcus got bullied, and why Will finds him so annoying to start with.
There are big bits of the book that are missed out, as always with the film version, but it didn't seem any the worse for it.
It was very funny, but at the same time, moving. I didn't cry, but came close to it.
I would definately recommend this, regardless of whether or not you've read the book. It really is a brilliant film.
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